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Monitoring eye movements to uncover the role of visual context in the access to verb-complement information during sentence comprehension

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Monitoring eye movements to uncover the role of visual context in the access to verb-complement information during sentence comprehension

Van de Velde, Caroline (2001) Monitoring eye movements to uncover the role of visual context in the access to verb-complement information during sentence comprehension. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This study examined the role of sentence and visual context in the access to verb-complement information, using an eye-tracker paradigm. Two sets of sentences were contrasted, a highly constraining causative construction in which there was a close conceptual relation between the verb and its direct object (e.g. " The woman burned the candle "), and a neutral construction with a transitive perception verb (e.g. " The woman admired the candle "). Moreover, we conducted an object search task to monitor the time subjects took to look at the target object (e.g. " candle ") when presented in isolation, using the same three probe points (onset of the noun, offset of the noun, and offset+200 ms). From these latter measurements, the saccade onsets to the target noun in the sentence experiment were subtracted in order to obtain a pure measurement of verb effects in the sentences. Subjects were asked to perform two different tasks; a memory matching task where they had prior viewing of the set of objects before the advent of the sentence, and a visual search task where the set of objects appeared only during the presentation of the sentence. Memory effects were then examined by contrasting the data collected from these two tasks. Results failed to support a statistically significant difference between these two types of sentence constructions, regardless of task, suggesting that verb-specific representations do not cause faster eye movements to objects related to typical complements of verbs. In conclusion, the language comprehension system appears to rely primarily on structural analyses of linguistic representations, which are independent from conceptual interpretation.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Van de Velde, Caroline
Pagination:ix, 179 leaves : ill. (some col.) ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (M.A.)
Program:Psychology
Date:2001
Thesis Supervisor(s):Van Grunau, Michael
ID Code:1436
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:19
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:20
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